[Elfsea] FW: A DallasNews.com article about teachers
morgancain at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 25 12:38:54 PDT 2003
TITLE: In Dallas, 30 percent of new hires not certified in subjects they
BYline: By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning News
AUSTIN Most Texas school districts are still scrambling to find enough
qualified teachers, according to a new study from Texas A&M University
that found nearly a quarter of the 39,000 teachers hired last fall were
not trained in their subjects.
The study comes amid fears that the situation could worsen after the
Legislature slashed health insurance benefits for all teachers.
In Dallas and other large, urban districts, an estimated 30 percent of
new teachers were not certified in the subjects they taught.
Districts were particularly hard-pressed to find enough teachers for
foreign language and computer science classes in high schools and for
bilingual classes in elementary schools and high schools.
About 42 percent of foreign language teachers hired last fall were not
fully certified, according to Texas A&M researchers. Further, a large
number of districts said it was also "very difficult to fill" vacant
positions in high school math, science and special education.
"School districts are continuing to hire less-than-fully certified
teachers to meet their needs," said the report by the Texas A&M
Institute for School-University Partnerships.
"The implication for Texas' teacher preparation programs is that
universities and other teacher preparation programs must continue their
efforts to prepare certified teachers, especially in the areas of
State teacher groups warned that the situation may worsen in the coming
school year because of the health insurance benefit decrease.
To help erase a $9.9 billion shortfall in the state budget, the
Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry stripped health insurance benefits that
teachers received from the state for the first time last year. The
$1,900 annual allocation given to each teacher by lawmakers in 2001 was
decreased by $500, and teachers also were required to subsidize health
insurance of retired teachers by an average $200 a net loss of about
$700 per active teacher.
Texas has about 295,000 classroom teachers.
"Teachers are demoralized over what has happened to them," said Brock
Gregg of the Association of Texas Professional Educators. "Most feel that
an important benefit was just taken away from them.
"It's something that's going to come back to haunt the state in future
years," he said, predicting that not only will more veteran teachers
quit, but more college students will shy away from a profession whose
pay and benefits are diminishing in Texas.
Richard Kouri of the Texas State Teachers Association said several
factors are driving the teacher shortage in the state, including
salaries and health insurance benefits.
"All of them are getting worse instead of better," Mr. Kouri said. "The
state has not increased teacher salaries since 1999, and then they came
in this year and cut health insurance benefits." Some school districts
are making up for the cuts, but they are sacrificing pay hikes to do so,
according to teacher groups.
A survey of teacher salaries by the American Federation of Teachers
released this month found Texas ranked 30th among the states, with an
average salary of $39,230. That was more than $5,000 below the national
Mr. Kouri said the state has long had a serious problem putting enough
properly certified teachers in the classroom.
A study by the State Board for Educator Certification found that more
than 50,000 Texas teachers were teaching subjects they were not
certified in for more than half the day in the 2001-02 school year. That
represented about 18 percent of all teachers.
The study said 56,551 were teaching at least one subject they were not
specifically trained in.
In some cases, that might have meant a biology teacher teaching physics,
but in other situations there were teachers with no training in science
teaching one of the sciences. Thousands were teachers with temporary
The Texas A&M study said there was a very slight improvement in the
number of teachers hired who were certified in their subjects last fall.
About 77 percent of the 39,006 new teachers held that distinction, up
from 76 percent in the fall of 2001.
The study also found that about 80 percent of the new teachers were hired
to replace teachers who retired or quit, while 20 percent were hired to
fill new positions created by increased enrollment or other factors.
Finally, researchers identified the subject areas where a large number
of school districts are offering pay incentives to hire and retain
teachers. Those include elementary and secondary bilingual education,
high school math and elementary special education.
Mr. Kouri and other teacher leaders pointed to several studies showing
the importance of having properly trained teachers if students are to
meet the academic goals that have been set for them.
For example, Texas spent millions of dollars in recent years to train
elementary school teachers in the best techniques for building students'
reading skills beginning in kindergarten.
The latest results on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills
indicated that the investment paid off: 96 percent of third graders this
year passed the reading section of the TAKS, advancing them to fourth
grade under the state's new promotion standards.
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